Parisian studio FREAKS freearchitects has covered a series of elaborately decorated galleries inside the Palais du Louvre with shiny plastic for an exhibition that brings together historic and contemporary design (+ slideshow).
Called Mutations, the show curated by Eric-Sébastien Faure-Lagorce temporarily occupies the advertising and graphics galleries in Musée des Arts Décoratifs – a decorative arts and design museum located in the western wing of the 12th-century palace beside the Seine.
FREAKS freearchitects decided to create a neutral backdrop for the items on display, which include both historic designs from the museum collection and modern pieces.
The architects used sheets of fireproof white plastic to cover the walls, floor and ceiling, giving the spaces a homogenous appearance that references the white box aesthetic commonly employed by modern galleries.
The plastic curves where it meets the floor and ceiling, with the intention to visually blur the edges of the spaces, "just as a photo shooting set in which the viewers wouldn't see the limit of the space".
"Having in each room both typologies of pieces at once required us to invent a way to create a strong visual and spatial difference in their respective display," architect Guillaume Aubry told Dezeen.
While priceless historic pieces require precise temperature control and security, modern works typically invite the viewer to examine closely without the protection of glass display cases – contradictory conditions the team sought to address in the exhibition design.
Frames set into the white plastic provide snippets of the hidden decor. Here, the architects have created secure pockets, allowing historic pieces to be displayed against a backdrop of patterned wallpaper, mouldings or wooden wainscotting.
By contrast, contemporary works are displayed on white plinths in the centre of the floor or suspended from the ceiling.
"Just as a photographer would frame a landscape to select the most interesting features, we proposed to build a white box into each existing room to then be able to frame specific items," said the architect.
"It helps to create a more neutral atmosphere to appreciate better the pieces by having a very homogeneous light."
"It also makes it much easier to handle for both historic piece likers and contemporary piece likers," he added.
Mutations runs until July 2015, when the white plastic will be stripped from the surfaces of the galleries and recycled.
Photography is by Felipe Ribon.